…Black Widow’s unusually youthful lifespan?

A year after the Communists rejected Nixon’s Five-Point Peace Plan for Southeast Asia and Matt Damon’s birth, Brian C. Saunders was born to redress the balance. Regrettably, the infant failed to stop either the Vietnam conflict or Matt Damon’s career.  For his sins, he was punished with enrolment in US public education and, addled with lack of knowledge, went on to public university for good measure. During this time, he filled his hours with drugs, alcohol and sex with women comic books!, which filled his days with a warm and happy glow. Many careers later, he writes for the public good, using facts and avoiding social media for information or human interaction.  You who read this are welcome.

Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanov, aka the Black Widow, was at a bit of a crossroads in 1990.  That’s when she unexpectedly appeared in one of the most popular issues of the Uncanny X-Men, #268, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Jim Lee.

figure-01_uxm268At the time, for anyone who had been reading comics for over five years, it would have come as no surprise to see the late 20’s Black Widow turning out to have known Wolverine since her childhood since by that stage, the trope of Wolverine already knowing everyone who turned up in his path had become an entrenched part of the character.

figure-02a_mfan24_loganfuryfigure-02b_uxm228_gyrichWhat would have confused readers, though, is the fact that Uncanny #268 depicts Natasha as a young child in World War II, almost 50 years before the present of the issue’s main story.

figure-03a_uxm268So what sort of perspective might Chris Claremont have had to account for the Black Widow’s apparent lack of aging?

Readers would sadly never find out, since while the September 1990 dated issue of Uncanny X-Men #268 raises the question, it never provides an answer, and Claremont is booted off the title before having an opportunity to follow the story up at a later date.

“Madripoor Knights” is very much a Wolverine story.  It is early in Captain America’s career, in “Late-Summer 1941” that he engages ninjas (genin field agents) of the Hand on the streets of Madripoor to rescue Ivan Petrovich.

figure-03b_uxm268Both men are hard pressed to overcome the tide of battle against them, when Logan (the character we are to know as Wolverine) appears, turning the tide in Cap and Ivan’s favour.  After the fight, Logan takes the two men to a local establishment, Seraph’s Bar, where Logan and Cap are briefed by Ivan on his mission and Logan narrowly avoids causing a bar fight with Baron von Strucker and his Nazi aide.

Natasha Romanov has been captured by Strucker to be delivered to the Hand.  The Hand has identified her as gifted with extraordinary aptitude for the martial arts, and means to begin her indoctrination into their organisation.

figure-03c_uxm268The men rescue Natasha but lose Logan, and instead of returning to the bar they go to the local American Consul, who, turning out to be a fascist loyal to the Nazis, promptly delivers them back to Strucker and the Hand.  Only Logan’s return to the conflict halts the ritual death of Ivan and Cap by a blade wielded by the Hand-entranced Natasha.  Freed to act, together the three men defeat Strucker and the Hand, and Logan sees to the safe return of all involved to their respective countries.

In the present of the story, Natasha, as the Black Widow, is surveilling the sibling group Fenris: Andrea and Andreas von Strucker, mutant children of the abovementioned Baron.  She falls prey to Hand field agents under the command of the evil organisation’s new jonin, Matsuo Tsurayaba, but is rescued by Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke who are on the run and searching for the missing X-Men. Upon her recovery, Natasha hugs her “Little Uncle”, Logan, and expresses concern at his debilitated state.  After briefing them, Logan and Natasha draw comparisons with their previous encounter almost 50 years ago to a dismayed Jubilee’s shock.

figure-03d_uxm268Natasha and the X-Men find an informant who gives up a meet location for Fenris and Matsuo. The location turns out to be a sham with decoys, and the villains themselves drink a toast to their victory from a safe, alternative location.

To understand this curious story requires a little history of Marvel itself.  Established in 1961, the Marvel Universe was born piecemeal from characters created in the late 1930’s and 40’s such as Captain America.  Steve Rogers was created in fact early in the year of 1941, a year partially known for fighting in Europe and sabre-rattling from the Pacific.  Nazi political interference with Jews in Germany had by this point become rumors of Ghettos and disappearing of Jewish citizens under German political influence.  These rumors of later proven fact became the impetus that Captain America was created out of, and Marvel had a patriotic Nazi fighter all ready when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Captain America would go on to return again and again after the war in Marvel’s publishing history, but it was only in Avengers #4 in 1963 that Steve Rogers would return to ongoing publication.  Not long after, 1964 to be precise, the Black Widow was created.  She was a secret agent for the USSR who bedeviled Iron Man…

figure-04a_tos52…a Cold War femme fatale who seduces the unaware Hawkeye into supporting her missions against the USA.

figure-04d_tos57In a few years, she has defected to the West, gotten a makeover as a superhero and uses her Soviet training and “Widow Sting” equipment to fight for the Avengers…

figure-05_avengers-30_-1st-widows-sting…go on to work for the Western-based spy organization, SHIELD…

figure-06_avengers-38_-1st-mission-for-shield…and date Daredevil.

figure-07_daredevil-84_1st-dateAt this time, some background started to be established for the Black Widow.  She acquired a chauffeur who apparently had a long standing relationship with Natasha and he rescued her from her bombed house in Stalingrad during WWII.

figure-08b_daredevil-88_ivan-rescues-natThen, in Daredevil #102, Chris Claremont went on to establish two things about the Black Widow.  Her middle name was Alianovna.  Russian middle names are patronyms which means the name is a version of their father’s first name.  So Natasha’s father is named Alian Romanoff.

figure-09_daredevil-102_1st-alianovnaThe second thing was that in the omnipotent captions, she is referred to as a Tsarina, which means “Empress Queen”.

figure-10_daredevil-102_1st-tsarinaAs Natasha is called Princess throughout Uncanny #268…

figure-11_uxm268_tsarina…Claremont is clearly implying that Natasha is in fact the last surviving heir to the Russian monarchy and Empress and Autocrat of All the Russias!

figure-12_uxm268_last-surviving-heir-of-the-russian-monarchyBut by 1990, Madame Romanoff would have been well over 50 years the age that she was depicted in 1990.  In 1964, this would have not been a problem.  In 1990, though, she was still a clearly young woman and always had been.

figure-13_uxm268_over-50-years-oldAt this point, it is necessary to remember that the Marvel Universe has a compressed time line.  Though most of it has been depicted beginning from 1967, in fact, the compression means that working backward from the present (currently early 21st Century, the beginning of the modern Marvel Universe, Fantastic Four #1, takes place in the early 2000’s and not 1961.  However, characters tied into fixed events, such as the Cold War or World War II, require explanations to orient the reader into how they can exist in the endless present of the Marvel Universe.  For instance, Captain America, fell into suspension animation towards the end of WWII until he awoke in Avengers #4.  But the Black Widow, a WWII child survivor, had no ready reference for her youth.  How could this be?

Some real word history is called for at this point.  During the Russian Civil War, the ruling monarchy was killed.

figure-14a_-colour-restored-picture-of-romanov-familyAmong them was Grand Duchess (or Princess) Anastasia, about whom rumors persisted throughout the 20th Century to the extent that she had survived and escaped.

figure-14b_grand-duchess-princess-anastasiaSeveral women claimed to be the surviving Anastasia, but none were accepted as such in their lifetimes and have since been disproven upon the discovery of the real Anastasia’s grave and subsequent DNA testing.

However, we are talking about the Marvel Universe, which can diverge from ours in subtle ways.  Anastasia was born in 1901.  Natasha Romanoff would have been born in the mid-to-late 1930’s.  It is possible she could be the daughter of Anastasia, if her mother had survived and stayed in Stalingrad and married a man named Alian Romanoff.  This seems unlikely to me as the Secret Police would never have countenanced the existence of a Royal Heir surviving or furthering the line.  The real Anastasia and her family were executed to prevent any threat to the dominance of the Communist Party’s control on the new government.  Moreover, none of the women who claimed to be Anastasia did so within the USSR, but safely in foreign countries far away.  It’s therefore very unlikely the real Anastasia could have lived in open sight in Stalingrad until World War II.

So how could Chris Claremont have reasoned this?

Natasha survived the destruction of her own home during the Battle of Stalingrad which took place from August 23, 1942 to February, 2 1943.  We know this because she told this to Viper in Marvel Team-Up #85.

figure-15_marvel-team-up-85-p13She could only safely exist in her homeland if all the ruling Romanoffs were believed dead.  But, what if there was a heretofore unknown infant born just before the February Revolution?  Conceived and born in secret because of the impeding revolution, this boy would have been the last hope for Nicholas II to continue the Romanoff house and restore the monarchy.  He could not remain in St. Petersburg, but was removed by a trusted retainer to the city of Stalingrad, where he could be raised in safety.  Nicholas II gives his lastborn son Alian Romanoff to his trusted retainer, Ivan Petrovitch.  Petrovitch raises the young Alian in a house purchased with what would be his family inheritance and there, Alian would grow to manhood, being trained by Ivan and study, waiting for the opportunity to regain the throne. Alian marries and the union produces Natasha, who is naturally athletic.  As World War II commences, Alian and his wife allow Natasha to train in ballet.  Her ballet performances expose the child’s prowess to the local martial arts community, resulting in her abduction by the Hand.  Unwilling to alert the Russian authorities, Ivan is enlisted to undertake the mission to save Natasha.  Alian’s wealth has allowed him to make contacts with foreign governments such as the USA, who are very interested when the heir to Russia’s throne asks for help and send their top asset, Steve Rogers as Captain America to Madripoor to meet Ivan, thus setting the stage for a young Steve Rogers to meet Logan and rescue Natasha.

In 1990, it had been many years since Black Widow’s WWII history had been referenced and many political changes had befallen the relationship with East and West since.  It was a shock to see it thoroughly and somewhat definitely referenced.  The floating timeline of the Marvel Universe wherein all present day issues took place in a past circa some eight to nine years since Fantastic Four #1 meant that the Black Widow’s childhood, fixed in WWII made her older than her apparent age.  While her present day adventures could be compressed, her past expanded as her meeting Wolverine and Captain America, and presence at the battle of Stalingrad locked her origins much the same way as Captain America and the Sub-Mariner’s were.  Steve Rogers was in a state of suspended animation until Avengers #4, Namor is a hybrid with an enhanced lifespan.  How does the Black Widow, a human peak athlete remain so?

The answer, I posit, lies in Claremont’s Spider-Woman #42, “The Judas Man.”

figure-16a_spider-woman-42_the-judas-manMichael Kramer has disappeared and daughter Pamela hires Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman to find him.  Michael is on the run from Viper and Silver Samurai.  Viper has gotten the catalyst for a virus that’s 99% fatal to all human beings.  In 1944, Kramer and his fellow American servicemen went down behind enemy lines, only to end up implanted with the deadly virus by the Red Skull.  The virus, dubbed the Judas Plague, required genetic modification to create immune plague carriers for distribution of the agent.  The antidote for the plague is generated via human reproduction by the “Judas Men”: their children will be born with the mutated matrix that will provide the antidote.  However, Captain America and Nick Fury and the Howling Commandoes destroyed the lab and all the research…

figure-16b_sw42_recap…except for the catalyst which was later found.  The sole survivor of the Judas Plague experiment, Michael escaped, and hid.  He also gained extended longevity…

figure-16c_sw42_michael-kramer-longevity…and his virus was discovered to have mutated into an inert form after Spider-Woman defeated Viper and Samurai’s plot.

figure-16d_sw43_michael-kramers-virus-discovered-to-be-inertIn 1945, we know victorious Russian forces in Germany took resources and assets from the conquered country as reparations for the War.  As part of this process, it is likely the Russians would have been instructed to collect any scientific research or seize sites of laboratories.  Although Fury and Captain America reported the Judas Plague research destroyed, the report was obviously not entirely accurate, given Michael Kramer’s status and the catalyst’s destruction given Viper’s later obtaining of it?

Jessica Drew recounts in Spider-Woman #43 that the Judas Plague was “required reading” for all Hydra agents.

figure-17a_sw43_jessica-recalls-judas-plague-knowledge-from-hydra-trainingViper, having likewise been a Hydra recruit, would have likely known about the site of the experiment and that Fury’s report was inaccurate.

figure-17b_sw42_viper-knew-furys-report-was-inaccurateIt stands to reason, then, that acquiring the Plague was an operational goal for Hydra, so at some point, Hydra got the catalyst from the Russians and Viper later stole it from Hydra.

But what were the Russians doing with it for so long?

By the late 40’s, early 50’s, Natasha Romanoff would have been identified as a prime candidate for espionage.  Instead Natasha was allowed to be a ballerina…

figure-18a_dd104_bolshoi-ballet…and marry Alexei Alanovich Shostakov, a top pilot for the Soviet military.

figure-18b_avengers-44_bw-married-soviet-military-pilot-alexei-shostakovAfter she was told he was killed (in reality, Shostakov was in training as the Red Guardian) she volunteered and trained for the KGB.

figure-18c_avengers-44-flashbackThe aptitude for martial arts that the Hand had seen in 1941 would have been manifest and she would have been trained in those arts and spy craft to serve the USSR.  As a Hand candidate for Master Assassin, she would have been top in her class and a prime asset.

figure-18d_dd88_bw-married-soviet-military-pilot-alexei-shostakovAs the Red Guardian, Alexei would have been a public figure, a role model to rally Soviet patriotism in the public and inspire fear of the strength of Russian might in the world.

figure-18d_avengers-44-red-guardian-projectThis did not happen because of his apparent death after Avengers #44 and the length of his experiment, which displayed considerable flaws such as his psychological volatility and his willingness to die to save the embodiment of Soviet Russia’s arch-rival.

figure-18d_avengers-44-flashbackHad that not happened, however, he would have been an individual of considerable influence according to Soviet planning.

I would further posit, therefore, that the Soviet government could not allow either Natasha or Alexei such unchecked influence.  Thus, both of them married and were subsequently separated for training alone.  The KGB by this time would have found the surviving German scientists of the Judas Plague experiment site.  Natasha was then subjected to a KGB-run Judas Plague experiment as the agency’s scientists would have deemed her likely to survive and then used as a spy. Natasha would assume the code name of the project, “Black Widow,” although she would be likely be unaware of the actual project or her status as a vector of a plague that could virtually depopulate the planet.  At the time that Alexei completed his training, Natasha would have been reunited with him.

figure-18f_natasha-and-alexeiAnd with that reunion, Alexei would be exposed to the plague, it likely being a sexually transmitted disease, and thereafter he could be deployed in the field with full confidence, either under Natasha’s influence as a loyal wife and operative or blackmailed with his life should he turn against the motherland.  He would serve as public relations at home and at the forefront in the Rodina’s military defense.

However, it obviously took much longer for Alexei to complete his “training.”  The Marvel compressed timeline meant that when Natasha was told Alexei was “dead” in the flashback in Avengers #44…

figure-18c_avengers-44-flashback…she spent decades believing he was dead.  During this time, the Red Guardian project crawled on.  Obviously inspired by the West’s Super Soldier Project, the Soviets’ process was flawed, with Alexei being endowed with superior strength, but a volatile psyche.  These setbacks might have required lengthy periods of mental conditioning, revealing the Super Soldier longevity effect.  Being the first operational asset, any other subjects of the project were likely driven insane if they survived the physical and psychological trauma of the incomplete chemical and radiological procedure.  Alexei’s personality was so altered, Natasha perceived little of the man she loved.  It’s likely he was brainwashed repeatedly in an effort to restore his sanity and bring him to operational readiness.  By the time he was, Natasha’s Judas Plague infection, like Michael Kramer’s, would have been found inert.  Well before then, she would have noticed her own longevity via the Judas Plague process and found out about what happened to her.  She would have been about 40 some years old and although youthful, she would have also realized she was infertile from the Judas Plague treatment (designed for men, I have to assume it wouldn’t be good for a woman’s reproductive ability).  This would have been another factor leading to her eventual defection to the West.

Without either Natasha or the Judas Plague, the Red Guardian project would have needed another control, but it’s likely at this point the break-up of the USSR would have loosened the paranoia and the need for a counterpart to Captain America.  At any rate, the Red Guardian went into the field with an unstable mentality and apparently died, leaving Natasha an indefinitely young widow.  Considering Alexei’s mental instability, his mission would have been selected to cause the most damage and result in his death.  Ironically, he died a hero, saving his wife and Captain America, somewhere in Southeast Asia.

figure-18f_avengers-44-death-of-alexei-shostakovWhen Natasha defected and her infection was inert, the catalyst would have been of no use and the Russians would have been either glad to sell it, or warehouse it.  Through either of those opportunities, Hydra and Viper could have acquired it, not knowing that the lifespan of the active virus in Michael Kramer had already expired.  After Viper stole the project from Hydra, she acquired Michael Kramer before the virus’s efficacy was verified.  By the time Spider-Woman freed Kramer, Viper’s scientists had determined his infection was inert as well.  The project was a failure and was subsequently abandoned, leaving two survivors, Michael Kramer and the Black Widow, forever changed.

Among her friends, such as Ivan and Logan, Natasha is called Princess or Tsarina.  It seems like a nickname to those who overhear, but in truth, she is the last surviving member of the Romanoffs and the rightful heir to the long deposed Russian Monarchy. She will never claim that crown, because her calling is a higher one.  She claims the titles of S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Avenger, and most importantly the Black Widow as a remembrance of the insidious exploitation of female agents by the Rodina through projects like the one that created her.

…Bruce Banner’s multiple personalities?

This Fix comes from long time Hulk fan, Deadfast Author and BAD HAVEN founder Mark ‘The Bad Man’ McCann.

0_ The Avengers new tv-spot with tons of hulk

Monstrous Origins

Since his inception The Incredible Hulk has been held up as an analogy for many things; the 60’s counter culture urge to rise up against repression – a reaction to the frustrations of war and the fear of nuclear side effects/ mutations and even a study on anger and justified violence. Stan Lee called the character ‘a golem’ in line with Jewish myth, and recalled Hulk as the Atomic Age Jekyll and Hyde.

But with so many dissonant personalities emerging over the years of his publication history it’s difficult to give a cohesive history of what exactly ‘Hulk’ really is when compared to his character history as an off-shoot of a gamma bomb experiment gone wrong and the fractured psyche of genius nuclear physicist Bruce Banner.

Figure 1: The different incarnations of Hulk from left - Gladiator Hulk, The Meastro, Gamma Irradiated Spider-Man, Joe Fixit, The Professor, House of M Hulk, The Green Scar

Figure 1: The different incarnations of Hulk from left – Gladiator Hulk, The Meastro, Gamma Irradiated Spider-Man, Joe Fixit, The Professor, House of M Hulk, The Green Scar

What we can agree on, is that from his initial appearance, although retconned and retconned again, Hulk emerged from the Gamma Bomb explosion of Banner’s own design a grey behemoth who would revert to Banner by sunrise, and Hulk again at sunset. This Hulk was different to the more commonly known version; a rampaging, monosyllabic, childlike engine of destruction.

And although the actual reasoning behind this change would be more one of simple editorial practicality (The grey colouring during his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1 proved problematic; ‘resulting in different shades of gray, and even green, in the issue’), the effects of the later change to ‘Green’ for the character and ‘childlike’ to the personality would be the catalyst for a long list of personality changes that would result in one of the most seemingly schizophrenic characters in comics.

Figure 2: During the Hulk's first ever appearance he was coloured Grey

Figure 2: During the Hulk’s first ever appearance he was coloured Grey

Breaking Banner

The reasoning behind the many sides of Hulk was elaborated on by writer Bill Mantlo who took the reins of the Hulk series with issue #245 (1980), when the writer alluded to Bruce Banner’s child abuse at the hands of his violent father, who would be shown in later issues to go one step further in traumatizing his son, by murdering Bruce’s mother.

The many faces of Hulk are hypothesized as a side effect of this abuse, which would later under the writing tenure of Peter David (during his 12 year run from issue #331 – 1987) be diagnosed as Multiple Personality Disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Dissociative disorders including DID have been attributed to disruptions in memory caused by trauma and other forms of stress, but research on this hypothesis has been characterized by poor methodology and in some cases doesn’t add up. But it would make perfect sense that Banner, especially from his early appearance as a troubled Nuclear physicist working on a Gamma Bomb under the watchful, and somewhat aggressive eye of General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross would create a side personality, an aggressive alpha male personality composed of Banner’s smarts, and a cunning of his own, internally to combat his own insecurities.  Banner was in a difficult situation, with feelings for the General’s daughter Betty and overshadowed by two existing powerful male figures in her life – Ross and Major Glenn Talbot, Betty’s husband to be.

Figure 3: The grey hulk Joe Fixit was actually an early persona Banner had created as part of his DID

Figure 3: The grey hulk Joe Fixit was actually an early persona Banner had created as part of his DID

This personality Banner created – the Grey Hulk – who would later seemingly devolve into a rampaging green behemoth was the same ‘Joe Fixit’ Hulk from later issues (Incredible Hulk #324 onwards)  and I contend a product of Banner’s secret rage, inadequacy (Major Glenn Talbot was about engaged to the woman he loved, Betty Ross, General Ross’ daughter, and both Ross and Talbot were ‘real men’ and treated Banner with scorn) and lust (for Betty Ross).  Described as; cunning, crafty, hedonistic, arrogant, and distant, this Hulk persona, still in his inception was later suppressed by Banner using the gamma ray machine he creates to return his intelligence to Hulk’s body.

This alters Hulk’s colour to green and makes Banner weakly and sick when he reverts from his monstrous transformations. Overuse of this machine, which could be categorized as continual stress on Banners part, would later induce the better known Savage Hulk persona, the hulking monosyllabic beast he is best known for, and has been a continuous presence throughout Hulk’s publication history.

Figure 4: the savage hulk smashes

Figure 4: The Savage Hulk Smashes

But this persona, while best categorized by his catch-phrase ‘Hulk Smash’, was hunted by the US Army and served as an Avengers antagonist, yet more often than not expressed an interest in being left alone. The reasons for this I contend, are that while Banner may have been suffering from DID, his strongest human instincts, the ones wired for survival, are what causes the manifestation of this particular Hulk. And the reason that no matter how many times Hulk’s personalities change or evolve; when under extreme stress or experiencing traumatic external events, it seems the Savage Hulk emerges prevalent as the one aspect of Bruce Banner’s persona that he cannot keep suppressed; his innate human survival instinct.

This has been the case when Banner existed as The Grey Hulk, and later the Merged Hulk or Professor Hulks (an amalgamation of all 3 of his dissociative personalities, including Banner). Through his transformations Banner’s personalities found a way to emerge, but I contend that his transformation itself, is something that happens purely on an instinctual level, something that Banner has harnessed to varying degrees, but has never been fully able to control. This also helps explain why on the temporary occasions that Banner has managed to separate himself from Hulk it has nearly killed him and/or driven him temporarily mad.

Figure 5: Hulk and Banner separated has proved detrimental to both as individual entities

Figure 5: Hulk and Banner separated has proved detrimental to both as individual entities

This was also the case with his Hulk alter ego, when during one of these instances (manipulated by the ethereal villain Nightmare) Hulk emerged minus Banner as ‘Mindless Hulk’, an incarnation of Hulk, that without Banner to hold him in check, ran rampant and was completely impossible to control. Could it not be possible that ‘Mindless Hulk’ was simply Banner’s survival mechanism running rampant and without an anchor to hold it in check, thrashing out wildly in an attempt to relocate its host? This was similarly the case when Doc Samson separated Banner from Hulk and created an even less cognitive version of Hulk, who due to the separation from Banner eventually began to die, until reunited.

Figure 6: The mindless Hulk was virtually  impossible minus Banner

Figure 6: The mindless Hulk was virtually impossible minus Banner

It’s also seems to be obvious that without Banner as his anchor Hulk continues to run unchecked and further towards a form of critical mass. When separated during the Onslaught Saga, this time round Hulk’s strength grew exponentially greater, and he also began to leak radiation until he was restored with his Banner ‘anchor’. The suggestion is, that this time round as opposed to just dying from the separation, he might have actually exploded.

Human Instinct

But returning to the idea of Banners ‘Hulk’ transformations as an ‘Instinctual Reaction’ to gamma mutation, and the personalities as a side effect of this new form of expression, we should note that the instincts, best described as inborn complex patterns of behaviour that must exist in every member of the species and that cannot be overcome by force of will, are not just a reflex reaction to Banner’s external stress stimulus.

The absence of volitional capacity must not be confused with an inability to modify fixed action patterns as it seems Banner as a child was able to alter his natural instinct towards survival and anger, a possible inborn genetic trait passed on from his violent and abusive father, suppressing it enough that he would later develop great internal, unreleased rage and the manifestation of DID.

The Savage Hulk, most often compared to Bruce’s inner child, could thus be best described as Bruce’s survival instincts finally given release, in the form of a rampaging beast, fused with the child he was when he first learned how to suppress them.

Further questions might arise however, when we consider that Banner’s psyche has massive numbers of personalities seemingly suppressed within. Guilt Hulk, Devil Hulk, Dark Hulk, Shrapnel Hulk, The Maestro and many more are all persona’s that have been witnessed within Banner, and only some of whom have ever found an outlet.

Figure 7: Bruce Banner's repressed personalities were once glimpsed in a cave in his psyche

Figure 7: Bruce Banner’s repressed personalities were once glimpsed in a cave in his psyche

The reason only some have emerged may be down to the strength of those said persona’s abilities to override or learn beyond Banner’s initial ‘survival instinct’ transformation. And while the personas have been combined, have run loose, or in the case of the Dark Hulk, a seemingly hostile extra-dimensional possession, mixed with Banner’s own dark feelings, (and a possible forerunner to the Maestro persona) exiled using magic and psychic tactics (via Doctor Strange and Namor) the manifestation of Banner’s survival has always been a reversion to the childlike ‘Savage Hulk’; the suppressed survival instinct of Bruce Banner as a child, given voice through the child he locked away, and with an abnormal cellular structure inherited from his father’s exposure to radiation which enabled his unique physiology to harness the gamma radiation from his own bomb rather than be annihilated by it.

Figure 8: Hulk's transformation

Figure 8: Hulk transformation

No matter how much Banner’s DID personalities work around it (Joe Fixit, Maestro, Green Scar, The Professor etc.) the reason they will never retain the same dominance as ‘Savage Hulk’ is that without Savage Hulk, the ultimate expression of ‘fight’ instead of flight and survival through adaptation (advanced strength, Healing and Durability) Banner would return to a level of vulnerability his body has since rejected, and die. Thus Banners survival is ironically linked to a transformation that gives his instinct form, paired with the personality he suppressed that is least equipped to survive. An abused Bruce Banner as a boy.

Post Analysis:

Figure 9: Among Hulks already impressive ability to channel anger into almost limitless strength, he can also heal from any wound, is almost impervious to damage and has shown the ability to adapt to breathing underwater and survival in the complete vacuum of space. For all intents and purposes he is a evolutionary hyper-Adaptoid

Figure 9: Among Hulks already impressive ability to channel anger into almost limitless strength, he can also heal from any wound, is almost impervious to damage and has shown the ability to adapt to breathing underwater and survival in the complete vacuum of space. For all intents and purposes he is a evolutionary hyper-adaptoid

Hulk’s continued mantra ‘Hulk Is The Strongest One There Is’ also gives credence to the idea that Hulk is not only Banner’s survival mechanism in action, but by his sheer survival and subsequent mutation, a form of Darwinian evolution given unnatural possibility through science. Hulk is ‘the strongest one there is’ not only as a physical entity, but in his continued evolution and adaptability as the purest sense of ‘survival of the fittest’ given form. The fact that human survival hinges on our ability to out-think our surrounding dangers further builds on the idea that while Hulk is a creature of pure survival given physicality, it is the very human instinct, and subsequent psychological variance that empowers him.

…the origin of Hope Summers?

New Avengers #25 is being touted as an Avengers Versus X-Men tie-in where “Iron Fist Discovers the Shocking Connection Between Himself And The Cosmic Phoenix Force.”

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Now regardless of the re-emergence of the Phoenix definitely occurring in this crossover…

AvengersVSXMen_4_Preview1

…now that we know of Iron Fist’s involvement, I’d posit that Hope Summers is not the reincarnation of Jean Grey and thereby inheritor to the cosmic force.

But if not inheritor to the Cosmic Phoenix Force, then what special heritage is held in store for her?

Given architect of the this event, Brian Bendis, has made it known for the last decade what a fan he is of Marvel’s 1970s properties, demonstrated through his revival of b-list characters from that period including Luke Cage, Jessica Drew, Carol Danvers, Danny Rand, Brother Voodoo, Dazzler, Rom Spaceknight (not to mention villains from that period), I’d suggest returning to a story from that period…

…in particular Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #19-25, written by Chris Claremont, where we were introduced to the Firebird.

Deadly Hands 19

Before the Great Cataclysm just after the N’Garai were banished from ruling the Earth…

Jade

…a woman known as Jade was physically and sexually assaulted by a band of men and left for dead in the woods.

When she recovered she was so mentally anguished that she prayed for death; and in response was exposed to a blinding light which set her afire, and transformed her into the Firebird, the mystical embodiment of all that is good, kind, decent and noble in humanity.

Firebird2

In this way Jade represented all that is best, and served as humanity’s soul, and thus lifted humanity out of the charnal pit the N’Garai had dug for it, allowing it to rise above its damned infancy.

Firebird

Millennia later, the demon sorcerer Dhasha Khan sought the power of the Firebird, directing a group of people to assault its human manifestation, Jade, in Feng-Tu, the realm of the dead for the people of K’un L’un.

Dhasha Khan

This assault was prevented by Iron Fist, who it was suggested was Firebird’s protector.

Iron Fist champion

With this in mind, it’s interesting that the upcoming Avengers Vs X-Men is suggesting that Iron Fist is the protector of Hope Summers.

NEWAVN2010026_02

So would it not be more interesting if Hope Summers was revealed not as Jean Grey, but the reincarnation of Jade from Feng-Tu…

And this all looks very Kung Fu don't you think?

And this all looks very Kung Fu don’t you think?

…and that K’un L’un’s Book of the Dead reveals that the duty of each Iron Fist down the ages has been to protect each incarnation of her!

Jade represented the soul and potential for goodness on Earth. She possessed minimal offensive abilities, but her soul, the Firebird was what helped mankind stave off its baser instincts. Without Jade, humanity would descend into unknown darkness and depravity. In addition, the power of her soul could be harnessed by others to perform massive, planet-wide, changes in reality.

So how cool would it be for there to be an unseen twist that the mutants are backing the wrong horse, and Hope turns out to be the re-incarnation of Jade (with the Firebird manifesting through her giving all the signs of the Phoenix), and not an actual avatar of the Phoenix as suspected?

Postscript: With what New Avengers #25 revealed about Yu-Ti and the Phoenix, it is interesting to note that seeking to save the Firebird (Jade) from Dhasha-Khan in Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #21, Lord Tuan (Yu-Ti) pretended to be showing Iron Fist how to defeat Dhasha Khan, guiding him to see Feng-Tu as it really was, the Land of the Dead.  In doing so, however, Tuan entranced Iron Fist so that the Bowman could slay him… that he might die in Jade’s place.

…Crystal’s infidelity?

Crystal gets a lot of disrespect from Avengers fans for her occasional lapses in marital fidelity, but I feel her actions could be understood in a different light.

Crystal is the second-oldest “young” superheroine in the Marvel Universe. The Invisible Girl, the Wasp, and even the Scarlet Witch were all depicted as fully grown women from their first appearances (although Wanda was portrayed as younger when she joined the Avengers than she first appeared to be in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Only Marvel Girl of the X-Men predates Crystal in the role of superheroic ingénue.

In a sense, Crystal was created to be a romance interest. From her first appearance in Fantastic Four #45 it was clear that she was meant for Johnny Storm, and we never saw the human Torch more proactive or more motivated than when he was trying to get to Crystal. She in turn seems to have had a “love at first sight” experience (nicely portrayed from her perspective for the first time in the Fantastic Four: Fireworks limited series). This mutual passion led to Crystal being willing for the first time to defy her family and risk everything to be with Johnny, leading to the dry-run Romeo and Juliet plotline which avoided the rather permanently tragic ending.

Later, Crystal came to live at the Baxter building as a member of the Fantastic Four (although there was absolutely NO indication that there were ever any nocturnal wanderings on her or Johnny’s part – Crystal and Johnny seem to have had the sort of chaste love that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1960’s My Love comic). She and Johnny seemed to be happily joined at the hip for a while until Crystal’s health deteriorated because of the pollutants of modern civilisation and she had to return to Attilan.

It was whilst returning to Attilan that Crystal became enmeshed in a plot of Diablo’s and eventually was taken by Lockjaw to the wounded Quicksilver who was trapped in the collapsing Australian Sentinel base. Despite a ruling that outsiders were not allowed in Attilan (which had kept Johnny away previously) Crystal brought Pietro home with her and nursed him to health. That they fell in love off-panel is one of the greatest failures in comics’ narration and goes a long way to explaining why this couple has never enjoyed the popularity of, say, Cyclops and Jean Grey or the Vision and the Scarlet Witch.

So Crystal breaks Johnny’s heart and marries Quicksilver. The Inhumans get over their prejudices about outsiders enough to allow this to happen, and apart from a guest appearance by Ultron at the wedding everything goes OK for a while. Quicksilver stays in Attilan, putting his Avengers training to good use as leader of the defence militia, and inexplicably failing to call his old comrades in when the city is attacked by a variety of menaces from Shatterstar to Maelstrom to the Enclave. Eventually Crystal has a baby, who is names Luna. Luna is extraordinarily human.

Now things get more complicated. In an excellent Byrne Thing story we see Crystal resisting her family’s efforts to expose Luna to the Terrigen Mists. Quicksilver is all for it. He doesn’t want to have a homo sapiens daughter. This is the first major schism between the young lovers, even though all appears to be restored to status quo afterwards. The story ends when Lockjaw speaks for the first time, claiming to be an Inhuman who was terribly changed by the Mists. Although this revelation has since been retconned as a joke on Ben, the actual story does not support this. Lockjaw’s speech is the pivotal point of a very dramatic and serious storyline. Nobody was going to be pulling jokes. It was this sudden interference by Lockjaw which convinces Pietro not to mutate Luna.

The next major development is of course Crystal’s adultery with the rather shallow real estate salesman (Norm somebody?) over in the Vision & Scarlet Witch Limited Series. Crystal’s motivations for this are depicted as being an increasing schism between her and Pietro. Later retcons have attributed it (and Quicksilver’s turning to the darkside of the force for a while) to Maximus’ mental manipulations. Suffice to say that this was the trigger for Crystal and Pietro to split up (though I was never that disappointed by it since I didn’t like them getting together in the first place).

The Inhumans do not appear to have been very sympathetic to Crystal about her troubles. When she decides to rejoin the FF there is a lot of resistance from her family and she is very closely monitored around Johnny Storm. Clearly there is much of the old attraction still intact on both sides, but Crystal overcomes temptation and eventually gets recalled to Attilan for a family-ordained reunion with the apparently repentant Pietro. The estranged couple remain together in a rather uncomfortable no-man’s land until the Avengers Collection Obsession storyline which leads to Crystal joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (bad idea). Quicksilver joins X-Factor shortly afterwards (worse idea).

Two things happen during Crystal’s time with the Avengers. First she has to cope with a growing mutual attraction to Dane Whitman, the Black Knight (another bad idea). Secondly she has to deal with attempts from Pietro to reconcile (even worse idea). And being Crystal she lets both of these things go too far. The story never makes clear whether Crystal and Dane consummate their affection (although there is an implication that they certainly did something down in the Mansion’s gardens, watched by Sersi and possibly the fake Vision – now that’s a couple I could get into), but they are certainly more than friends. And it is this last complicated triangle, or quadrilateral, or whatever, that has branded Crystal a slut in the eyes of many Avengers readers. When Tuc, Crystal’s alternate-future son, appeared in The Crossing, it was unclear as to whether Pietro or Dane was his father (I’d prefer Johnny as the one since I’m still convinced he is Luna’s pa too).

So much is history, and a simplified version at that. But the Inhumans limited series by Jae Lee introduced a new concept which could force us all to re-evaluate little Crystal’s behaviour.

Lee’s Inhumans are more than just a race of mutants or some other super-powered variant species of humanity. The storyline in the current series implies that the Inhumans are effectively a designer organism, each gaining powers from the Terrigen mist which enable them to fulfil some social function within the society as a whole. In other words, each Inhuman is born to a place within Inhuman culture, just as an ant has a fixed role within its live. What that role is becomes clear at the time of Terrigen metamorphosis for an Inhuman. Whether it is the destiny of that person to be a food-generator, a guard, a drone, or a king, it is all regulated in some way by the collective need of the race which we now know to be truly Inhuman.

Yet even amongst the Inhumans this is understood only by Maximus the Mad, and perhaps Black Bolt.

This function is not just about power. An Inhumans’ special ability is only a reflection of the core of their nature. Hence the mutation of the mists only manifests the role which they have been genetically engineered to play from birth.

So what does this say about Crystal’s function in Inhuman society? Is it only the whimsy of a silly girl that led her to Johnny Storm and later to Pietro Maximoff and Dane Whitman? Or does Crystal have some sort of cultural imperative which makes her seek out the unknown and embrace it? Of all the Inhumans’ royal family Crystal is the only one who has willingly sought out adventure beyond Attilan.

There is something almost mystical about the way the Mists manifest skills within the Inhumans in anticipation of what they will need. Just at the time that contact with other cultures was going to be critical to the survival of the Inhumans, Crystal came along to seek out liaison with the Human Torch, and through him others who had power to achieve what the current Inhumans could not. Her instinct seemed to be to bond, physically, emotionally, totally, with some gifted male from outside her own culture. Denied access to Johnny Storm she was taken (by Lockjaw!) to Pietro Maximoff.

Lockjaw remains an enigma (although I hear that Inhumans series addresses him but I don’t know how). Although his sentience has been portrayed as a joke by Inhumans such as Karnak and Gorgon ever since Byrne left the FF, I don’t entirely trust the Inhuman royal family to always speak the truth to outsiders. Certainly a culture which has created and enslaved the Alpha Primitives would have few qualms in mutating one of its own and making them a dumb beast. But whether dumb beast or not, his pivotal role at two vital moments of Crystal’s life cannot be ignored. Perhaps Lockjaw’s function was to do whatever was necessary to bring about the conception and preservation of Luna?

As to the estate agent, I can only plead that Crystal’s instincts are clearly very strong.

Still, the Inhuman collective imperative does seem to require “fresh blood” for the future. There has been more interaction between Inhumans and the outside world in the few years since the FF first met Medusa than in all the centuries before that. And Crystal’s urge to join with a non-Inhuman man do not seem to have diminished. Even her very personality – nurturing, gentle, loving, and kind – seems to suit her for the role placed upon her.

So what do you think? Is there more to Crystal’s actions than meets the eye? Is there an explanation for how a loving and caring woman could break first Johnny’s then Pietro’s hearts? Is Crystal as much victim as perpetrator? Has she any way to avoid her genetically-impelled destiny?

The “victim/perpetrator” concept reminds one of the viewpoint on Lucrezia Borgia. Used as a lovely tool for political alliances, which were often destroyed by her family when they were no longer necessary (including her one true love, who was stabbed and later murdered on her own brother’s command). It sparks the imagination, but I would be concerned that any of the Inhumans (except Maximus) would consciously have such cold-hearted intentions. What are your thoughts on this?

There are a number of dark shadows at the edge of the Inhumans stories. Apart from the Alpha Primitives, and the later depicted genetic snobbery based upon the Terrigen Mist mutations, there is also the mystery of Lockjaw, the only mutated apparent animal we have ever seen in Attilan, and also the questions around Medusa’s child.

We have seen the Inhumans drag Crystal home on a number of occasions when her behaviour has been considered inappropriate by Inhuman society. Conversely, we have seen Quicksilver treated with contempt by them even as he has been struggling for their lives. We have seen the very strict regimen under which Inhuman culture is operated, by never-fully-depicted codes as complex and impenetrable as many of the older cultures of our own world.

All of this seems to suggest that the Inhumans are not, as they often appear to be, merely the Addams Family of the Marvel Universe, or another lost tribe, but something very different… Inhuman in fact. It may even be that the Inhuman organism is, on one level, the culture, not the individual. And if so, judging any of the Inhumans’ interactions by human standards will always leave us somewhat puzzled.

On the other hand, the Inhuman Royal family and some others have been shown as noble, compassionate, and selfless. It may be that like many cultures the Inhumans maintain a “public face” for outsiders and have a rich, complicated sub-strata which is reserved for insiders only. Or there may be those things that all Inhumans know, but never speak about (think about the Victorian culture of our own history, and the taboos which it had, such as homosexuality; things still went on, but were never acknowledged).

That said, one’s impression is that even the Inhumans themselves do not understand how deep their genetic imperatives go. Perhaps that is why Maximus, who seems to comprehend them best, is mad, and why Black Bolt, who is the wisdom of his people, can shatter worlds with his voice.

So what about Crystal’s place as a specialised breeder to stimulate the otherwise inbred Inhuman community?

First, the Inhumans have been around for a very long time, and isolated for nearly all of their history. We have never heard anything about inbreeding problems in their community before, presumably because the mutative effects of the Terrigen Mist go far beyond simply giving people fins and wings and so on, and negate the sort of problematic cross-breeding that humans would have suffered in that time. So we need a different reason for Crystal’s (hypothesised) imperative.

However, the Inhuman Terrigen transformation is more than just a genetic change. Like the Gamma radiation which has created several super-powered beings, the Terrigen Mists seem to unlock what is already inside a person. Hence manipulative Maximus becomes a mind-bender, fierce bullish Gorgon gains hooves and a powerful stamp, and responsible, brooding Black Bolt gains electron control at the cost of his voice (the only Inhuman with two different powers, which is interesting).

And the transformation allows the young Inhuman to take their place in society, setting their social status and life-role. So the transformation is more than genetic, making this a far more complex system than the different instinctive roles of an insect hive.

As mentioned above, even Crystal would have to be a damn sight sluttier to make a significant difference to the Inhuman gene pool. So there is clearly some other reason why she might need to conceive a child by an outsider, and who turns out to be entirely human.

There is evidence to argue that the Inhumans bring forth the individuals that their society will need, somehow unconsciously anticipating what is to come. If rebellious, heart-led Crystal had not struck up her romance with Johnny Storm, the entire Inhuman population might have been destroyed, or at least subjugated by Maximus and later by the Kree. If Crystal had not birthed Luna then the Avengers would not have survived the Crossing. And who knows what need the Inhumans might have for Luna in the days to come?

Or perhaps it was just time for the Inhumans to stop hiding. It is perhaps significant that within weeks of the Inhumans being discovered the world was visited for the first time by Galactus. Within a few years of their “discovery” the Inhumans would be involved in all kinds of world-shattering events from invasions to Infernos. Was this all somehow anticipated, and Crystal spawned to prepare for it?

My other point is about the origins of the Inhumans. Remember that they were an early, forgotten, genetic experiment by the Kree. This takes on a new relevance in the light of the Supreme Intelligence’s sacrifice of the entire Kree galaxy in order to promote the genetic advancement of his race.

We have never seen anything like an Inhumans experiment on another planet, yet somehow this unique accomplishment, which has significant military value and which had both a Sentinel and Shatterstar set to watch over it was overlooked for millennia. Only the Supreme Intelligence himself could bury data that well. And the Inhumans started interacting with the outside world just as the Skrulls began their major campaign on Earth, and shortly before the Kree/Skrull War (in which they also played a role).

Is there still Kree programming somewhere in the genetic code of the Inhumans? Is the Supreme Intelligence saving this experiment for something special, perhaps something to do with his plans to revitalise the Kree genetic inheritance? Has the Supreme Intelligence got a purpose for Luna?

These what-if games can get very deep, can’t they? Perhaps it’s safer to assume that Crystal is a fallible, all-too human girl who has made good judgements and bad in her time. Not the culmination of an ancient plot by the Supreme Intelligence to exploit the genetic potential of humankind and spread his power across the stars.  But the latter sounds like much more fun!!!

To the earlier point, and I have seen similar behaviour in many real women who definitely weren’t sluts, I am interested by the later idea that the Inhumans are not really individuals but parts of one organism, with each playing its assigned social function (this raises some really big questions about Maximus, though, and whether he is a slipped cog or a vital part of the machine. In that concept, Crystal is either totally betraying the hive-society by her actions or else is performing some vital function.

On the question of Inhuman morals, they seem to place a massive emphasis on the sanctity of marriage. This is presumably because they have a society based upon genetic lines, so parentage is very important. The hint we have sometimes had about Maximus’ forbidden passion, and possibly affair, with Medusa raises some very dark questions over the Inhuman Royal Family.

On the question of Inhuman morals, they seem to place a massive emphasis on the sanctity of marriage. This is presumably because they have a society based upon genetic lines, so parentage is very important. The hint we have sometimes had about Maximus’ forbidden passion, and possibly affair, with Medusa raises some very dark questions over the Inhuman Royal Family.

Maybe Crystal is a “selective Xeno-breeder.”

Bear with me, I might lose even myself here.

The sentence above, “This is presumably because they have a society based upon genetic lines, so parentage is important” sets off bells in me noggin’.

The Inhumans keep careful watch of their breeding. They are a small society made up of genetic time-bombs (fused by the Terrigen Mists), so they must be very careful of inbreeding, more so than other small societies.

The smaller the society the harder it would be to keep relatives (especially distant ones) from breeding. This is why many states have blood testing before marriage.

Crystal could perhaps be meant to breed outside of her species to introduce new genetic material to the Inhumans bloodline.

When dog breeders breed their dogs they look for the best possible mate they could find. They do research and check all documents to make sure inbreeding won’t occur. In breeding is bad.

Ok, so assuming Crystal is a “selective Xeno-breeder”, what’s the “selective” part mean?

Look who she chose to breed with on Earth. Her first choice was a Homo Sapien that had been changed by cosmic ray bombardment, he was a public figure, a hero, and roughly her age.

Her second choice: a Homo Superior that had been severely injured while committing a heroic deed (Pietro’s bloodline is actually worshipped by some Mutants on Marvel Earth).

Her third? Well, let’s just say this is what makes Crystal’s function also risky to the Inhumans. A “selective breeder” with misguided judgement.

Or maybe she just was trying to gain back Pietro’s attention by hooking up with Norm the real estate agent. Maybe she had found love. Pietro’s a cold dude though, and he’s not innocent in their relationship problems.

Her fourth. A Homo Sapien that had been a hero in two centuries, an Avenger, a scientist, and a master sword-fighter to boot.

Crystal is also an elemental, which also raises questions on her connection to earthly type things.

My point: Maybe Crystal is MEANT to breed with exceptional males that are not Inhuman to bring in new genes to the gene pool. This would be a very hard position for her, because the Inhumans are very serious about marriage, and her genetic role would be to seek mates.

Crystal did however accomplish her “mission” (if this were actual continuity), she successfully had a child with a Homo Superior Pietro. Luna is like a breath of fresh air(no pun intended) for the Inhumans and their scrutinised gene pool. The Royal Family gets the gold.

Maybe.

Also, close society have a high percentage of endogamy. That comes with a lot of disease and sickness to them. The percentage between genome mutations is higher than in other more open/ mixed cultures. When that happens, a society like such can even vanish, dying all their members. Then the cross with another population can health that sick population, the hybrid vigour like its name, can save them. Then, if correct, Crystal’s role in her society is vital. They have to mix with human or some close species just to survive (but then you need more than one Luna to accomplish that).

Something entirely different. To have a baby is an honour between Inhumans. Their reproduction is politically controlled (Like we saw in Vision & SW LS II). They can´t have children if their government (Royal family?) don’t allow it. When a couple have a baby it is consider a gift and their prestige elevates (suggesting everything is programmed).

And we have never yet seen how they “know” that it is right to reproduce.

One interesting thought: we have some evidence that Inhumans are longer lived than homo sapiens. We also have evidence that they have very long courtships (Medusa and Black Bolt, for example). Is it because Inhumans have to be genetically and socially “right” for each other before they are allowed to breed?

About Crystal betraying the society, well Inhumans don’t like her behaviour but then perhaps they don´t even know Crystal part is crucial for them.

…Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy’s world being in Universe-616?

Demon Spirits

When the Cotati are sent to the moon by the Skrulls to compete with the Kree, as revealed in Avengers #133, I’m wondering if they didn’t so much create the wonderful jungle but rather resurrected the Moon’s past life – which I’d suggest was created from a fragment of the Earth.

I’d then suggest that this “environment” was where Devil Dinosaur and his inseparable ape-pal, Moon-Boy frolicked, and was in fact not a version of Earth in a parallel Earth.

The name Moon-Boy makes much more sense if that’s where he actually lived!

As for what happened to this wonderful jungle since all signs of it no longer remain on the lunar surface, whereas ruins of the city the Kree built still exist on the Blue Area of the Moon.

I’d suggest that some other aliens, perhaps controlled by the Cotati (?the Nuwali?) transport this jungle to a hidden place in Antarctica, to preserve it from destruction, where it becomes the Savage Land.

I’d further suggest that the aliens Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy encountered in Kirby’s original series were also the Kree, pissed that they had lost the competition!

…Ultron’s origin?

Ultron's origin

There are a number of theories floating about on Hank Pym’s behavioural problems. Those problems are observed as far back as Avengers #13. At the start of the issue Janet Van Dyne was particularly bright and perky, but by the end she almost died. Avengers #14 featured the team hunting for a cure for her injury, with Hank on the edge of insanity. A few issues thereafter Hank and Jan quit the team.

While the events of Avengers #14 were used as evidence for Hank’s mental instability, since Giant-Man was in turns despairing, petulant, and angry, some fans suggested Jan was pregnant at the time of her injury and lost the child as a consequence of the shoot­ing.

Further speculation holds that this may have led to Hank’s mental problems and feelings of inadequacy.

The event fits well with the mysterious creation of Ultron as a surrogate child.

So this makes a great explanation for Ultron and Hank’s mental state, but problems need ironing out for this possibility to work.

This idea that Hank and Jan’s unborn child had his brain wave patterns impressed on Ultron’s programming is possible. So, say Hank had that unborn infant’s patterns around, and in a fit of despair, used them for the mind of his robotic “child.” Ultron, on becoming conscious, would have processed environmental stimuli, and using super-fast processing time, all the data in Hank’s computers, faster than a normal biological infant.

It explains why Ultron hates his father and loves his mother. If Hank dictates a personal log into his computers, Ultron would know Hank blames himself for the Wasp’s injury and the loss of the baby. Ultron could believe his own father “murdered” him, while hurting his mother.

We’ve frequently seen that one panel showing the Wasp in an overall bodysuit, in the middle of one of Hanks’ gadgets, as he modifies her metabolism to give her “Wasp” powers. (This always struck me as odd, because Hank never gave himself or anyone else “natural,” biological superpowers; he uses serums and potions and mechanisms.)

It’s safe to assume that process of “empowering” the Wasp happened quite often, and it was accompanied each time by a full physical done by Hank, aided by scanners of Hank’s invention more sophisticated than you’d find in a doctor’s office.

Hank would want to know what was going on in Jan’s body down to the very last DNA strand before he played around with giving her insect super powers, or even “charged her up” each time.

Obviously, then, Hank gives Jan a super power treatment after he knocks her up, then his scans show she’s pregnant. He would know it quickly.

Here’s where the guilt that turned Hank eventually self-destructive comes in: He didn’t tell her.

Why? Because Hank’s a schmuck. He wasn’t sure it was his, and he couldn’t tell her that, either. So does Schmuck Hank with No Self Esteem propose? Noooooo.

He tries to determine the baby’s paternity. And does Hank create the world’s first DNA tests back in 1963? No, he uses brainwaves.

Which is why he took the opportunity to grab a dying man’s brainwaves, so he could study them. Eventually, he found a way to study his own brainwave patterns and Jan’s, by comparing them to Wonder Man’s as a necessary, unrelated third pattern. He recorded the fetus’ brainwave patterns, and established that, indeed, it was his and Jan’s child.

And before he could tell anyone about it, Jan got injured and lost the baby.

Imagine the torment. Because he doubted the fidelity of the woman he loves, and because, well, he’s a jerk, there’s no denying it, he withheld crucial information. Had Jan known she was carrying Hank’s child, she would have put herself on inactive status, the baby would have been born, she and Hank would have married for positive, healthy reasons instead of that sick Yellowjacket situation, and Hank would have never turned into the neurotic mess we all knew and loved, and they would have a biological child by now.

He can never, never, never admit to this. He may be so far in denial (and had so many psychotic breaks) that he no longer remembers it. It was a huge step to admit that he used his own brainwave patterns for Ultron’s mind, but even that’s not the truth. The truth is much darker. Ultron is Jan and Hank’s child, twisted and sociopathic. If Hank knows that, he will never let Jan know it. Most likely, however, he doesn’t know it.

Ultron must know it, and that’s why he taunts his father by calling him “dad.”But Ultron also will never admit to it, because Ultron doesn’t want to admit he has any ties to real humanity. For Ultron to ever admit that he is Jan and Hank’s unborn son, transplanted into robotic form, would be enormously humiliating. He’d have to be forced to do it, and there’s no way to put that kind of pressure on Ultron, since he can’t be permanently killed.

So neither he nor Hank will ever admit to this dark secret, that they really are father and son, and Jan really has a child with Hank, one who wants to kill every last human being on the face of the planet, as well as every other form of biological life.

This post first appeared as my contribution to Assembled!2: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Villains, appearing in Part 2 of that volume as Ultron as Pym’s True Son.

Postscript

You’ll adduce from the above my dislike for Hank’s later psychotic break and spousal abuse of Janet.

I  can’t see why no one up until now has attempted to reveal it as just another scheme of Ultron’s, akin to his mentally controlling the butler Jarvis when in the guise of the “Crimson Cowl” (Roy really did do the definitive Hank didn’t he)?

Shooter himself even had Pym brainwashed to kidnap the Wasp so she could be converted to a metal mate for Ultron in 161.

Christ, Justin Hammer had his scientists working over a long period of time to figure out a way to control Iron Man’s armour remotely so what is so hard to believe about a robot with an Oedipus Complex scheming to make its “father” fall out of favour with its “mother” so it can step in and become the “surrogate” husband?

This to me would seem to be the best, and simplest, way to redeem Hank and it gels with previous continuity.  Just reveal it and then move forward.